Original Beans is an organic premium chocolate brand with a mission to protect and restore the rainforest through agroforestry, reduce waste through innovative compostable packaging, reduce environmental impact through a climate-positive value chain, and improve the quality of life for their farmers and the local community.
In the process, the rare beans are sourced through a close partnership with fairly paid farmers and refined in a Swiss chocolate factory to create an exquisite taste experience without additives. With each purchase, an ancient, regenerative method is used to plant or protect a cacao tree and grow it.
Friedrich Alexander Universitat
Original Beans uses regenerative and sustainable farming techniques instead of traditional monoculture in their re-innovation business model. They create chocolate bars, as was done 200 years ago, "the way nature intended" (Conrady, 2022). Rare varieties of cacao beans that were found again improve the quality and taste of chocolate. These beans are grown using agroforestry methods that help the climate because cacao trees take CO2 out of the air.
In addition, Original Beans works with climate-optimized partners who are themselves sustainable or as climate-positive as possible "to cause the least impact in their value chain" (Conrady, 2022). Original Beans pays their farmers fair wages decoupled from the cocoa market price to ensure a secure income and a life free of poverty. The growers receive training and equipment to farm regeneratively. However, not only do the farmers themselves benefit from their chocolate, but also the environment and the community, as every product is linked with a social project. Original Beans has come up with a unique way to package their coffee that doesn't use plastic and is biodegradable. It uses an ultra-thin layer of aluminum.
For its key partners and customers, Original Beans promotes conscious consumption and an appreciation of the effort and expense that have gone into the product. Customers consciously enjoy the chocolate and experience the taste. The chocolate industry is committed to using resources in a sustainable way at every step of the value chain. This is done to help restore the rainforest, protect biodiversity, and cut down on waste.
The founder of Original Beans, Philipp Kauffmann, comes from a family with a long history of recognized natural explorers and conservationists. One of them realized, as early as 1795, that nature must be preserved for future generations. Thus, as our interviewee Nina Conrady puts it, nature preservation "is in his DNA," so to speak.
After discovering his entrepreneurial drive while being an internet entrepreneur in the early 1990s, Philipp started working for the United Nations in New York and stayed there for 10 years while working with the WWF in biodiversity hotspots in the tropics. However, the processes there were very bureaucratic and slow. At this point, he decided to start a project on his own, in a way where "you don’t only give money into it, but you actually have a business purpose" (Conrady, 2022). What was very important to him in that regard was that the business should be beneficial for everyone involved; for the farmers (or "growers"), as Original Beans call them, but also for nature and finally for the end consumers, who should receive a good product. He then had the idea of growing cacao, which is not supposed to be grown in monocultures but rather in the shade of other trees, making it the "perfect plant to do regenerative business" (Conrady, 2022).
Philipp Kauffmann himself sums his inspiration up in another interview: "Original Beans does not exist for the purpose of making good chocolate. We exist because we want to solve the most important problems of our time: the preservation of rainforests and biodiversity, poverty, conflict, and migration (Becht, 2019).
“What we want to achieve is to make a business without destroying, and actually - if you do it right - you can do the opposite of destruction.” – Conrady, 2022
As stated in the quote by Nina Conrady above, Original Beans strives to go even beyond sustainability: they aim to incorporate regeneration in every part of their business model and build a "true value" chain (Original Beans, 2022b). By doing so, Original Beans has already achieved a great impact, which contributes to the achievement of several SDGs.
The sale of Original Beans provides its cacao farmers with a secure income over the average market price. In 2021, they even "paid 1,78 times the Fairtrade cacao price directly to growers" (Original Beans, 2022b). Since Original Beans sources its cacao from different small growers located in 9 different operating regions, they could establish various sourcing projects, mainly all over South America as well as Africa. Therefore, Original Beans could already improve the lives of 5,272 cacao-growing families from two regions in Peru as well as places in Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Congo DR, and Tanzania (Original Beans, 2022b, c).
Good Health and Well-Being
Today, consumers often suffer from an unhealthy and excessive diet. Therefore, and in contrast to many conventional chocolate producers’ products, Original Beans’ chocolate is 100% free from emulsifiers, false fats, aromas, as well as additives and pesticides. On top, Original Beans’ chocolate contains 8% less sugar than others (Original Beans, 2022d).
Original Beans not only secures the income of many cacao-growing families but aims to empower the farmers with training and education. Also, women who grow cacao are given special attention to make sure they have long-term jobs and promote equality (Original Beans, 2022b).
Responsible Consumption and Production
Chocolate and food, in general, should receive more appreciation again. By empathizing with the value and indulgence of chocolate, Original Beans strives to transform food culture. Furthermore, by paying attention to every life cycle step of Original Beans’ chocolate, from sourcing to disposal, a wholesome value chain is pursued. Original Beans supports the ancient, indigenous way of cacao farming, carefully selects cooperation partners and ensures traceability as well as transparency. Original Beans could already get rid of 2,517 tons of packaging waste because they made the first compostable chocolate package (Conrady, 2022; Original Beans, 2022d).
Original Beans’ products are climate positive. This is achieved due to their ambitions regarding saving biodiverse forests from extinction to grow their rare cacao beans there, reforestation projects, as well as optimizing the whole value chain regarding emissions. In this way, Original Beans have already regenerated biodiversity hotspots, protected the equivalent of 27,908 soccer fields of rare rainforests and saved 14,467 tons of CO2 (Original Beans, 2022d).
Besides its significant overall impact, the chocolate that Original Beans offer has an impact on the business level as well. As of today, Original Beans is profitable and achieves a turnover of less than €10 million. The 10 direct employees profit from flat hierarchies and can work flexibly worldwide.
The exceptional taste of the chocolate also opened the high-end market for Original Beans. Nina Conrady sees significant growth potential for her company, which is driven by the general market trend towards sustainability as well as the trend of high-end consumers in urban city centers going in the premium direction. Nina sees enough potential for Original Beans in the slowly growing overall market: "If we do it right, there is enough potential. Especially on the producer side, so companies that use chocolate for something else "(Conrady, 2022).
Besides their award-winning chocolate taste and the re-invention of the old way of cacao growing, Original Beans also innovated and launched the first garden-compostable packaging in the chocolate industry in 2012. It is made from wood fibers and cardboard and "reduces by 82% the negative impact on the environment and human health compared to conventional aluminum foil and cardboard packaging" (Original Beans, 2022a).
Helping the people as well as protecting the climate and preserving nature are core aims of Original Beans. Therefore, they are manifested as Original Beans’ goals, Fair+ and Climate+.
Fair+: Being an Original Beans cacao grower means getting secure long-term contracts that guarantee direct sales of the high-quality cacao beans at a premium price. Fairtrade and other organic chocolate companies might add 5–10% to the international cacao price. However, they follow the fluctuations of world cacao prices. In contrast, Original Beans offers a higher and, above all, more stable price to the farmers (Original Beans, 2022e). Therefore, cacao-growing families can afford housing and education for their children. Yet, there's more to it than that, as Original Beans does not only support the cacao growers financially but also in their work. Due to direct relationships with the cacao growers on the ground, direct trade, as well as the provision of training and education, the growers are being empowered in their business and enabled to better protect the forest. In this context, the empowerment of women in particular is a concern Original Beans wants to drive forward (Conady, 2022; Original Beans, 2022b; Original Beans, 2022f).
Climate+: To protect the climate, Original Beans optimized its whole supply chain. First, they source the cacao beans from "Climate Forests." These forests can absorb a considerable amount of CO2, as they are grown in a regenerative manner. Secondly, Original Beans manufacturing sites are run by renewable energy and located within a 100 km radius to reduce transport emissions. The chocolate packaging is sourced from Europe’s climate-leading paper mill. Third, Original Beans established the first trackable tree planting program, called One Bar: One Tree. This is not a conventional outsourced planting program like many other companies use. One Bar: One Tree ensures that Original Beans’ cacao growing partners themselves get additional money for every bar sold to plant cacao or shadow tree in their forest (Original Beans, 2022b; Original Beans, 2022g).
With the help of local NGOs and organizations, Original Beans supports many other projects linked to the cacao origin countries. By buying their chocolate, you can, for example, support an elephant program, a condor animal shelter, or protect endangered mountain gorillas (Conrady, 2022; Original Beans, 2022c).
So, by eating delicious chocolate you can do something good for people and the planet, and preserve nature as well as wildlife! How cool is that!?
Becht, Katrin (2019). „Taste the Rare“ - Klima-positive Single-Origin Schokolade von Original Beans. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjwgNTqvpn5AhWeXvEDHSrBDt4QFnoECB0QAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.biofach.de%2FEdb%2FEdb3%2FLoadPressInfo%2F803422%3Flanguage%3Dde&usg=AOvVaw1Oib6iqst7pqQGfiP85vzl. Last access 28.07.2022.
Conrady, Nina (2022). Interview with the Marketing Leader of Original Beans. Last access 06.07.2022.
Original Beans (2022a). Beautiful world without plastic. https://originalbeans.com/plastic-free/. Last access 29.07.2022.
Original Beans (2022b). Together to 100% regenerative: Our Chocolate Story.
Original Beans (2022c). Travel to Origin. https://originalbeans.com/cacao-origins/. Last access 30.07.2022.
Original Beans (2022d). OUR CHOCOLATE FOODPRINT 2021. https://tree.originalbeans.com/chocolate-foodprint-2021/. Last access 29.07.2022.
Original Beans (2022e). Buy FAIR+. https://originalbeans.com/direct-trade/. Last access 11.08.2022.
Original Beans (2022f). Empowerment of women. https://originalbeans.com/empower-women-farmers/. Last access 30.07.2022.
Original Beans (2022g). FAQ. https://originalbeans.com/faq/. Last access 30.07.2022.
Nina Conrady, Marketing Leader
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Business Website: https://originalbeans.com/
Year Founded: 2008
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Since 2008, Original Beans has ventured into remote rainforests to source the world's rarest cacao beans and change the culture of chocolate, food, and luxury. Original Beans sources beans directly from farmers and sells exclusive, pure chocolate bars of premium quality to consumers and professionals such as restaurants, hotels, and small (manufacturing) businesses through its website and retailers. They work closely with local farmers and partners to procure regeneratively and create the first climate-positive chocolate. The chocolate company believes in giving more back than taking and that, together with growers, producers, and chocolate lovers, we can regenerate what we consume.